Andrew Broder :: The Aquarium Drunkard Interview

Premiered in 2020 and released in 2021, The Show found visionary author Alan Moore (Illuminations, Jerusalem, Watchmen) teaming up director Mitch Jenkins for a dreamy and magical detective film set to a moody electronic score by Minneapolis-based producer Andrew Broder.

This week sees the release of The Show Original Soundtrackthough what listeners hear on the record isn’t exactly what’s featured on screen. Instead, the project gave Broder a chance to reimagine the music, decoupling it from the source material and calling in a bevy of guest vocalists including serpentwithfeet, Moor Mother, billy woods (Armand Hammer), Kazu Makino (Blonde Redhead), and more to voice lyrics penned by Moore himself.

“I think once the project kind of separated from the film, I was free to give it its own meaning and purpose,” Broder says. “I did want to keep the spirit of Alan’s worldview in mind—a piece that feels hallucinatory, leads you into different dark corners. A little menacing, a little beautiful, kinda noir, and kinda timeless.”

Broder joined us to discuss the project, his work with MF Doom, Joe Rainey, Lambchop, and a particularly moving song from his group Fog featuring his fellow Minnesotans, Alan Sparhawk and late Mimi Parker of Low. | j woodbury

Aquarium Drunkard: I enjoyed The Show film a lot—but I’m even more engaged by what I’ve heard from The Show Original Soundtrack. It features your music and some lyrics by ​​Alan Moore. What does the creative arrangement look like on a practical level between you and him? 

Andrew Broder: Thank you. I wish I could say I was chillin’ with Alan in the studio and texting with him all the time but the reality is, the man is extremely reclusive and pretty much keeps to his hometown with no internet or email. So any collaborative work with him has been kinda like carrier-pigeon style for the most part. That said, I have visited his hometown Northhampton, a delightful balmy place, and hung with him there as well as performed with him in London when we did Unearthing live. And in the flesh, Alan is a warm, wonderful funny guy with a million stories and smokes very long joints constantly. He’s amazing. 

AD: Moore is an uncompromising creative force. I get the sense he prefers working with people who operate on a similar level? 

Andrew Broder: I think because of his proclivity towards staying in the shadows, it’s hit and miss. As an artist who is always trying to find ways to reach out to people here, there, and everywhere, I’d love to see the dude out there more in the modern landscape of film, music, theater, whatever, working with up and coming creators. I think he’s got a little of the “all art sucks nowadays” vibe which isn’t true, but I understand why some people get to that place. But yeah, he is very specific about his vision and I don’t think he wants to work with just anybody, and I suppose I feel the same way. I’d like everything to feel purposeful and art-driven.

AD: I also really enjoyed your previous project with him, the spoken word album Unearthing, which you referenced earlier, which you did as part of Crook&Flail with Doseone. Was that your first time working with him? Had you read his work already? 

Andrew Broder: Yeah, that was my first engagement with Alan, it came through my label, Lex. I was never a big graphic novel or comic reader so I really hadn’t checked out too much of his stuff, but I was familiar with his story and reputation. Once I got into the content, I realized why he is so important.

AD: Did you watch early cuts of the movie as you were working on the music for The Show? Did the images suggest certain moods? 

Andrew Broder: I watched the movie like 1,000 times. [Laughs] You have to. For the music that’s in the film, I had some moods and ideas about how the music could steer things. But the director [Mitch Jenkins] had his ideas and was the one to kind of dictate that stuff. So for the Lex record, which is slightly different than the film music itself, I wanted to rethink and remix things, and have it feel more expansive, make it more my own vision that didn’t have to necessarily adhere to character moments or plot lines.

AD: To create a stand-alone album from that music, you reached out to a wide cast of collaborators, people like Serpentwithfeet, Moor Mother, Kazu Makino (Blonde Redhead), and billy woods (Armand Hammer), Denzel Curry and others. What threads connect the kind of artists you chose for this project? What qualities did you want to bring to this material? 

Andrew Broder: I guess all the people listed, who I am truly blessed to have gotten on this project, have a certain dramatic, cinematic quality about their work, their voices. They paint pictures with their songs that draw you into their world, nothing casual about them. So I wanted this record to feel like that—kind of intense and like an important, revelatory dream that sticks with you. 

AD: Your recent work with Joe Rainey has been mind blowing. What have you learned about music working with him? 

Andrew Broder: Oh, so so much. Making Niineta and partnering with Joe has just been a huge benefit to me as a person and as a musician. Obviously, getting to understand more about powwow singing and drum groups, rhythms, and regional styles and details has been illuminating, but also for me as a producer and composer, it’s helped me take a big leap. I love being in the supporting role. I love writing for strings and I love making beats. Joe’s approach to melody, harmony, and structure has opened me a lot too, gave me a new way to think of a song, different than the usual pop-driven verse/chorus forms that we all tend to gravitate towards. 

AD: Similarly, you and Kurt Wagner of Lambchop have been really adventurous and bold. What is working with Kurt like? 

Andrew Broder: Working with Kurt is a blast—he is so trusting and open to ideas. For someone with such a long track record, he wants to keep pushing his songs into new places and that’s kind of my dream job, you know? Work with a songwriter who I love to take their stuff somewhere it’s never been. Plus the guy is just a sweetheart and we just have a good time hanging out and talking. 

AD: With Fog, you have a great song from your 2007 album Ditherer called “What’s Up Freaks?”, and are two versions, one with Alan Sparhawk and the late Mimi Parker of Low, and a remix by Akron Family,  featuring the late Miles Seaton. It’s a very special song, what does that collaboration mean to you? 

Andrew Broder: That’s one of those one’s where I’ll forget about it, and then every once in a while remember that happened, like “Oh yeah, wow!” It’s a heartfelt song about friends dying, and of course Mimi leaving us recently was hard hitting and Miles as well, for my friends who knew him well. I have been doing music long enough now, in so many different contexts and capacities, that song and writing songs like that, it feels so far away today. In a way it kind of gives me that “I was so much older than/ younger than that now” kind of feeling, kind of hard to pin down why. It may be that I never write a song of that nature again, so to revisit that material is always a mixed feeling of warm recollection and puzzlement, like was that even me? I tend to keep it moving rather than linger in the past. But to have a song with Mim on it is all the more special now, I suppose.

AD: You worked with the legendary MF Doom on Fog’s debut. Did you have any strange interactions with him? Was working with him a mysterious process? 

Andrew Broder: I had a lot of interactions with him, mostly on the phone or via email or the postal service. But yeah we were kind of like penpals or something, including that collaboration for the Fog record, which he sent to me in the mail, on a Minidisc. I still have it. Only got to hang with him in person once, in Minneapolis. I’ll never forget that—but he was always real friendly and chill and we just talked about music and books and shit, nothing too wild or extraordinary. But he was a real hero to me and I am so grateful to have crossed paths with him, however fleeting. He was one of the gods.

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